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Criminal Law Keyed to Gershowitz
City of Chicago v. Morales
Citation:527 U.S. 41 (1999), 119 S.Ct. 1849, 144 L.Ed.2d 67.
In 1992, the Chicago City Council enacted the Gang Congregation Ordinance to decrease crime. It prohibited “criminal street gang members” from loitering with one another or with other persons in any public place. It is punishable by a fine of up to $ 500, imprisonment for not more than six months, and a requirement to perform up to 120 hours of community service. Four things must be met in order to be found guilty: (1) the police officer must reasonably believe that at least one of the two or more persons present in the public place is a “criminal street gang member.” (2) they must be loitering. (3) the officer must order all of them to disperse. (4) a person must disobey the officer’s order. If any person, whether a gang member or not, disobeys the officer’s order, that person is guilty of violating the ordinance.
The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the lower courts that struck down the ordinance, holding that it violated the due process clause. The Court reasoned that it was impermissibly vague on its face and an arbitrary restriction on personal liberties. The City of Chicago appealed.
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